Want to know what are considered Paleo foods? While every Paleo book seems to allow something different, new research is actually proving what cavemen really ate and drank.
As a Crossfitter, I have to hear all about the benefits of the Paleo Diet. But since there’s no evidence that our ancestors lived long enough to experience the chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease that we get, I usually don’t generally recommend following a strict Paleo diet.
Luckily, mounting research from anthropologists is proving that our ancestors’ diets included ancient grains and probably alcohol as well. New research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in December reported that DNA from human teeth remains found from the hunter-gatherer era reveals that our ancestors did, in fact, eat grains, among many other foods that we previously thought they did not consume.
The Paleo Premise
The premise of eating “Paleo” or the “caveman” or “hunter-gatherer” diet is to mimic the diet of our ancestors ate from the Paleolithic era until the agricultural revolution began about 10,000 years ago. As hunter-gatherers, it was thought that we subsisted on grass-fed meats, game, free-range birds, fish, fruit, veggies, and nuts. That means no dairy products, no processed foods, no sugars, no grains, no alcohol.
Problem is, the Paleo diet has been made popular by minimal research and is more hype than sound science. It can also be very restrictive so its not very unsustainable for most individuals. .
When you break down a typical Paleo diet, it gets the majority of calories from animal foods and just under 50% of calories form plant foods. The diet is higher in protein (almost twice as much) as we currently recommend in the Dietary Guidelines and fat intake is higher, although the fats are primarily healthy omega 3s and other unsaturated fats.
I’m all for diets that get rid of excess processed foods and help to eliminate the “junk” in our diet. Here are my 21st Century Healthy Eating Rules:
Drink water as my main beverage and limit liquid calories
Eat a diet rich in plant-based foods
Include lean proteins, especially from seafood, poultry, lean meats, nuts, seeds and beans
Enjoying whole grains as primary source of grains
Minimizing added sugars, sodium and saturated fat
Use olive, peanut and canola oils as my major fat sources